The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear on May 17 a plea filed by the Andhra Pradesh government challenging an order of the National Green Tribunal which set aside environmental clearance granted to the Avulapalli reservoir in the state. A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala posted the matter after senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi mentioned the matter seeking urgent hearing.
"We will list it day after tomorrow since it is a public project," the bench said. Rohatgi said this is an extraordinary case where the NGT has set aside the environmental clearance (EC) to the reservoir. The NGT on May 11 had set aside the EC given by the State-level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) for the construction of the Avulapalli balancing reservoir.
The green panel had passed the order on a plea filed by farmers against the validity of the EC. The NGT had also imposed a penalty of Rs 100 crore on Andhra Pradesh government payable to the Krishna River Management Board within a period of three months.
"It is extremely disturbing to note that a Government Department, in gross violation of environmental laws, can go to this extent to implement an Irrigation Project by resorting to falsehood, misrepresentation and cheating the SEIAA," the NGT had said in its order. "If a Government Department can stoop to the levels they have as in the instant case, nothing can prevent an agency with commercial gains to split the project into different phases to avoid EC or change the category," the NGT had said.
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